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African-American student organization reborn for modern issues

Students+from+the+Black+Student+Union+pose+for+a+photo+during+a+visit+to+UIC.
Students from the Black Student Union pose for a photo during a visit to UIC.

Students from the Black Student Union pose for a photo during a visit to UIC.

•courtesy of Mason Vernon

•courtesy of Mason Vernon

Students from the Black Student Union pose for a photo during a visit to UIC.

Joshua Irvine

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This school isn’t exactly known for its representation of African American students; the school is over 70 percent white, according to the Illinois Report Card, with only 1.6 percent of students identifying as African Americans.

Physical education teacher Mason Vernon has restarted the school’s Black Student Union, a formerly defunct student organization centered around African American students.

“I felt with the climate in the country, and at Hersey, it was time to bring it back, and to show these kids there is a family within a family,” Vernon said.

The members of organization have their own opinions; junior and BSU member Nubia Denekew suggested police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement as “what kinda triggered a lot of things at Hersey.”

Denekew along with around 20 other African-American students comprise the body of the new organization. Though Vernon describes it currently as “secular” when it comes to its racial make-up, he says the organization will be open in the future to non-black students.

“We’d like people who don’t have an understanding [of African-American issues] to join,” Vernon said.

The Black Student Union currently lacks any distinct student leadership, but Vernon anticipates the formation of various leadership roles as the organization develops.

“This is very new. I just wanna see what I have, who I have, who’s down for this cause and we’ll move from there,” Vernon said.

“Everything’s still up in the air,” Denekew said. “I can’t wait to see how it goes.”

The organization previously took part in a field trip to University of Illinois in Chicago to learn about college opportunities for African-American students. They plan on attending a teen summit for black students at Harper College in February

“By forming this group, we can actually talk about it with each other, and hopefully spread some news about it and spread the word and give people more education in terms of how to handle things,” Vernon said.

The Black Student Union meets once every two weeks. Students interested in joining can speak to Vernon.

 

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African-American student organization reborn for modern issues